CrimethInc: Anarchist “Ex-Worker” Collective Makes Case for Violence
As the weather warms, and the Occupy movement prepares to re-group for their new offensive, the “99 Percent Spring”, the anarchist collective known as CrimethInc posted an article on March 27 arguing that the Occupy movement in the U.S. needs to be willing to expand it’s horizons, if you will, in how it should go about attempting to bring change to the United States. Titled “The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacy“, the post uses the high-minded wordiness typical of anarchists to explain, and then justify, the use of violence in protest movements within the United States.
The unnamed author explains how every relationship of power within American society is “violent”:
This is further complicated by the ways our society is based on and permeated by harm or threat that violates consent. In this sense, isn’t it violent to live on colonized territory, destroying ecosystems through our daily consumption and benefitting from economic relations that are forced on others at gunpoint? Isn’t it violent for armed guards to keep food and land, once a commons shared by all, from those who need them? Is it more violent to resist the police who evict people from their homes, or to stand aside while people are made homeless? Is it more violent to throw tear gas canisters back at police, or to denounce those who throw them back as “violent,” giving police a free hand to do worse?
In this state of affairs, there is no such thing as nonviolence—the closest we can hope to come is to negate the harm or threat posed by the proponents of top-down violence.
Those crazy kids at CrimethInc go on to complain about how the Black Bloc anarchists that made their way into various Occupy camps were made outcasts after a time, thanks to two writers who apparently have some influence within the various activist communities. The one shining light, the unknown author argues, was Occupy Oakland, which embraced a “diversity of tactics”, (that beloved catchphrase of the hardcore Left):
But it often happens that the preconditions for a movement become limitations that it must transcend: Occupy Oakland remained vibrant after other occupations died down because it embraced a diversity of tactics, not despite this. Likewise, if we really want to transform our society, we can’t remain forever within the narrow boundaries of what the authorities deem legitimate: we have to extend the range of what people feel entitled to do.
So what’s the answer for the collectivist anarchists of CrimethInc? Well, it’s not a happy one, even though they use vague terms to describe what they feel needs to happen:
Making nonviolence the central tenet of our movement makes good sense if our long-term goal is not to challenge the fundamental structure of our society…But if we really want to transform our society, we have to transform the discourse of legitimacy, not just position ourselves well within it as it currently exists.
In essence, those whacky anarchists over at CrimethInc are arguing that non-violence only works if one seeks to maintain the current structure and flow of power within our society. If that’s not your goal, if the goal is to tear it all down and build something new, then actions that might be considered violent need to be legitimized, and the only way to make those possibly violent actions legitimate is to change what ARE legitimate forms of resistance within people’s minds. The reason this is important, the unnamed author argues, is “that’s the the point of affirming a diversity of tactics: to build a movement that has space for all of us, yet leaves no space for domination and silencing—a “people power” that can both expand and intensify.”
As the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live used to say, “Well isn’t that special?”.